This is an antique painting showing off the gorgeous color patterns of the early parti poodle!!  

Notice the distinct clean markings!  Many such drawings and photos can be found of the original parti poodles!

This is a gorgeous example of a phantom poodle with "doberman" like markings.  

The phantom poodle is often mistaken for a parti, but they are in a class of their own! 

Definition of a Parti Poodle and Other patterns

Many of the original poodles WERE parti colored, many people don't know that.  It was chosen by earlier breeders to attempt to breed out the parti colored poodles, favoring the solids, though why is beyond me!! Don't get me wrong, I also think the solid colors are gorgeous, but I think there is room for both.... Thankfully the parti gene was a persistent gene and is making a come back!! I do see why some breeders are afraid of too much of the parti gene being “hidden” in a “solid colored” line, causing mis-marks, etc. But, if handled properly, It should be an avoidable problem.

Unlike phantom poodles, a parti Poodle is one with a white base coat of more than 50%  and a secondary color.  The secondary colors may fall anywhere on the dog as well as those spots may be of any poodle color. This is one element that makes parti Poodles so interesting.  No two ever look alike and many breeders take joy in the fact that having a litters of partis is akin to opening presents... you never  know  what you will get! No peeking!

On a well-bred parti Poodle, the white should be crisp and clear and the secondary color will have clear lines without fading into the white.  It is expected that many parti Poodles will have some tiny spots, usually black, that can appear anywhere, on the paws, face or body.  

In regard to breeding, pairing 2 partis will always produce partis, however the combinations of color and the landing areas of color cannot be predicted.  One litter can contain a black and white parti and an apricot and white parti, with color falling in completely different areas, for example.

It is the MITF gene which causes coloring to appear in random areas in parti Poodles. Since the MITF gene is recessive to solid color (Solid color is a stronger gene),  both dam and sire must be partis (or a "parti carrier") to create partis and a parti paired with a solid (a non-parti carrier) will most likely produce a solid, that dog WILL be a parti carrier though.  A parti carrier is a dog that carries the parti gene from one of its parents, meaning that it can pass on the parti gene to its pups if paired with a parti or another parti carrier.

Parti Poodles cannot currently be shown in AKC conformation events, and because of that, some people mistakenly believe that they also cannot be AKC registered. This is not true.  Partis are AKC register-able  with pre-designated color numbers, and can be shown in obedience and agility.  It may only be a matter of time before they are able to enter into conformation as they are in other countries such as Germany.  They CAN be shown in UKC shows.  

It should be noted that partis were always very popular across the world.  In the late 1900's, for unknown and unrecorded reasons, those in power decided to disclude them from the show ring.  In 2002 the Multi-Color Poodle Club of American was formed and held their own conformation show in 2006, on the same day as the IKC's 12th annual premier show.

 Terminology!  Get the Facts!

I am always amazed at how many "breeders" don't even know what they have!!  It really doesn't look good when they have not done the homework on the breed of their own choosing?!  They definitely should NOT be breeding.  Before buying a dog, know what is what!  

People who want to be a responsible breeder will do their homework before even purchasing a dog to be used for breeding.  Only after an extensive study (average of 2 years) then the studying turns to finding that "right" breeding stock for their line.  This holds true for ANY breed of dog.

What is a Mis-marked Poodle?

"Mis-marks" are refered to as "Abstracts" by some. (A much more flattering name I would say.) Many people confuse mis-marks with Tuxedo Poodles, and sometimes even partis, believing that these words mean the same thing. This is not true. While all three will have white and another color, there is a distinguishable difference.

A mismark is a poodle who has a base coat of any color accepted for a poodle, with patches of white covering less than 50% of the coat (while the parti poodle will have a base coat of white being at least 50% with patches of any poodle color.)    On an Abstract or Mis-marked poodle the light or white color will fall on some or all of the following areas of the dog:

          *The chest




         *Tip of the tail

       **Rarely anywhere else on the body

These are all examples of a typical "Mismarked" dogs.  I do not know these dogs or their breeders.   

To further define the difference between partis and mismarks, if you were to shave down a mismark, the Poodle's skin would all be the main color of the coat.  However, if you shaved down a Parti Poodle, the skin would be 2 colors, marking exactly where the white hair was and where the colored hair was.  

 Understanding Multi Patterned Poodles

While much more rare, there are Poodles with multi-color patterns.  These dogs will have more than 1 of the acceptable color patterns. For example:  A parti Poodle (this is 1 acceptable color pattern) with phantom markings (a 2ndary acceptable color pattern).  This would be a phantom-parti.  These dogs can not be shown in conformation classes with AKC.  They can be shown in Obedience and Agility classes though and can be shown in conformation classes with UKC.

Unfortunately, "Silken Standard Poodles" are taking a break from breeding. If I find out differently, I will pass it on!!  They have gorgeous pups!  Thank you again. 

This picture was graciously loaned to me by "Silken Standard Poodles!"  It is an awesome example of color and patterns!!  Puppies 1 and 3 are phantoms. Puppies 2, 4, 6 are Tri-colored Phantom-Partis! Puppy 5 is a Tri-colored Phantom-Tuxedo! Thank you Silken Standards! Awesome Litter!! 


A True tuxedo Poodle will have a very special markings in certain areas that literally remind you of a tuxedo.  There will be:   A white bib - this is color on the chest, it may or may not wrap all the way around the dog's neck. A white belly - This "should" touch the bib, making a continuous white area White that extends from the belly down to the front and hind legs and paws.  

While this is the preferred look of a tuxedo Poodle, some will only have white that extends down the front legs, some will have a disconnection of the bib to belly, others may have white markings on the head, etc.  While slight spotting on the white hairs is acceptable, heavy spotting (known as ticking) is not preferred.  The photo below shows a "perfect" tuxedo Poodle, the white is extremely pure and crisp and covers all above mentioned areas in a clear, defined way.  

These are awesome examples of what the Tuxedo markings SHOULD look like.  Very specific not considered parti contrary to what some would think, as they have less than 50% white.  The one on the right, in the first pic is really close to being a parti though, I guess it would come down to how much white he has on the back of his neck, if any. :O)

Phantom Poodles

A phantom Poodle is not a different breed or type of dog, this is simply a term to describe a particular coloring of the dog. This type of coloring, while extremely beautiful and preferred by many Poodle owners, is not yet accepted by the AKC in regard to conformation. 

This is much different than parti colored Poodles, even though both parti and phantoms have a mixture of 2 colors.  This term only refers to Poodles who specific markings on a solid background. The solid will usually be:
  • Black, cream, apricot, red, white, silver or brown
These dogs are broken down into more detailed groups:
  • Black phantoms - black & apricot, black & red, black & cream, black & gray, black & brown or black & silver
  • Chocolate phantoms - Brown & apricot
  • Red phantoms - red & apricot
  • Silver phantoms - silver & cream
The markings must occur on certain parts of the dogs' coat.  Many refer to these markings as Dobie markings (short for Doberman), however this pattern also appears on Dachshunds, certain Spaniels, Yorkies, Manchester Terriers and certain Coonhounds.   These markings must be:
  • Above each eye
  • On the sides of the muzzle (also referred to as the side of the cheeks)
  • Across the dog's chest
  • Down the legs
  • Under the tail
All phantom Poodles are born with their markings.  This does not occur as the dog ages.

Phantoms are genetically linked to brindle Poodles.  Therefore, a phantom Poodle dam or sire can produce a litter of  brindle pups and a brindle Poodle dam or sire can produce a litter of phantom puppies. 

With most dog breeds, brindle is a term that means fur that is striped, quite similar to a tabby cat or a tiger.  However, with Poodles, brindle means "sable".  Sable is a term that means that the coat is one color yet the tips of the hairs are black.   With most dogs, the sabling (black tips) fade out or completely disappear with age.

Issues with Phantom Poodles:  Before 2005, in Germany (a country in which the Poodle is highly popular), phantoms were only allowed to be bred with other phantom Poodles.  Whenever an apricot Poodle puppy was born,  the German Poodle Club did not allow that pup to bred.  These rules caused too much inline breeding to be done. 

Inline breeding is the pairing of dogs who are very closely related, such as father to daughter and is considered unethical by most reputable breeders in the U.S.   

The inline breeding caused bloodlines to develop too long of a lower jaw,  overbites,  incorrect number of teeth, and premature color fading.    This led to a drastic & needed change that allowed Phantoms to be mated with black or apricot Poodles.  This is slowly, yet steadily, decreasing the above stated flaws.  

Currently, the AKC does not recognize Phantom Poodles in Conformation events, but does allow them to participate in Agility and Obedience.  UKC does recognize them and will allow them to participate in all categories!

These are examples of Phantom Poodles!  :)  

Notice how the Phantom poodles have the same markings as a Doberman pinscher and rottweiler!  :)

I hope this all makes sense!  There is a lot to know about poodles, beyond colors and patterns!  

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